McDougall’s range of snack mixes, from RHM Foodservice (Addlestone, Surrey), enables bakers to produce cookies, doughnuts and muffins easily, using McDougall’s Muffin Mixes, offered in three varieties: chocolate, toffee and plain. The mixes can be adapted with extra flavours and ingredients, such as fruit and chocolate.McDougall’s Cookie Mix allows bakers to create batches of American-style cookies, with a crunchy outside and chewy inside. RHM Foodservice also offers McDougall’s Doughnut and Bun Mix.
Industrial Easirobe Enrober, can be used for chocolate, fondant, jams and jellies – in fact any type of product in a bakery, says the Leeds-based firm. Made entirely from stainless steel, it features an air pump to transport the product from the tank to the dual-curtain coating reservoir, where various attachments can be fitted to the blower, enabling coatings of the top or sides of product – or indeed both.
The Village Bakery (Coedpoeth), based near Wrexham, has discovered its gluten-free bread range is proving popular in Finland. Increased demand for the bread has meant the bakery will be adding a second shift to its schedule and looks set to increase its number of staff by 10, to 30.The Scandinavian ‘Toasty’ range, which is produced at the newly opened North Wales factory, has recently been voted the number one new product in 2008, by the Finnish Coeliac Association. The firm also revealed it has had interest from as far afield as Australia.The gluten-free range is sold under the Juvela brand in the UK and under the Semper brand in Scandinavia.“We are very proud of what we have achieved with the gluten-free range and we’re naturally delighted that is has been so well-received,” said Robin Jones, joint managing director. “The gluten-free market is growing at a fantastic rate, which bodes well for the future.”The new £3m bakery was opened back in October and is the result of a five-year agreement with baby-food company, Hero AG, based in Switzerland.
Coffee Republic is on the look-out for 20 new retail sites, only months after being rescued from administration.With new investment behind the brand, it aims to open the shops in major towns across the UK within the next 12 months and property agents have been tasked with finding prime sites likely to be a mix of company- owned outlets and franchised units.The coffee chain was bought out of administration in August by property firm Arab Investments and started trading as Coffee Republic Trading.A new management team, headed by new CEO Tariq Affara, will appoint a design agency to revitalise new and existing stores while updated in-store promotions have already been launched, including toastie meal deals.Affara is driving the turn-around strategy and plans to focus on marketing, including revitalising the brand to retain its strengths and links with coffee connoisseurs while appealing to a wider market.Coffee Republic’s head of operations David Reynolds said that, at a time when coffee brands were becoming increasingly homogeneous, it was focusing on rolling out the best customer experience with the best quality coffee. “We are confident that with careful management and further investment in the brand we will see Coffee Republic go from strength to strength,” said Reynolds.The coffee chain has also sealed a deal to open the highest urban coffee shop in the UK, on the observation deck of the Pinnacle building, almost 300 metres above street level. The Pinnacle a 63-storey skyscraper being built in the City of London is set to open at the end of 2012 and will become the second tallest building in the UK, after the 310-metre Shard of Glass at London Bridge.Coffee Republic’s current estate is made up of five company-run bars, 48 franchised outlets and 84 concessions.
Multiple retailer Sainsbury’s has announced that it is “on course” to be the first retailer to use 100% British flour in its own-label sliced bread.This follows the announcement, in July this year, that its 400 in-store bakery-produced products are now made using 100% British flour, sourced with the help of farming co-operative Camgrain.Around 40 million loaves of Sainsbury’s own-label bread are sold per year (excluding ISB) and, according to a statement from the company, it has already converted “the biggest selection” of its own-label bread range to 100% British flour, and has plans for converting its remaining own-label sliced bread ranges.Completed conversion of the entire category is expected next year. However, as a result of the move, the retailer is currently sourcing an additional 1,500 tonnes of flour a week from UK farmers.The switch to British flour has taken over nine months of development in order to ensure consistent long-term supply, with benefits including full traceability.Annie Graham, Sainsbury’s head of sustainability, said the provenance of the ingredients used in its food is a key issue for the supermarket, as well as for its customers.
Some of the best-known bakery businesses in the UK have started, and continued, as a family business. Bakery retailer Greggs began life as a family venture, and Warburtons is still one. So what makes family-owned firms so special? A new study into the UK business sector, carried out by Warwick Business School, reveals that small family-owned firms are regarded as more employee-friendly, motivational, passionate and creative than non-family private enterprises. Commissioned by insurer More th>n Business, it also reveals that family firms are perceived as offering better welfare conditions and more flexible hours, unity, purpose, trust, and less stress. Head of More th>n Business Mike Bowman says these perceptions could spur a surge in interest from job-seekers, who have suffered at the hands of the recession. With unemployment levels at their highest, rising to 7.9% in September that’s 2.47 million people out of work and with the 16-24-year-old age category hit the hardest, could this be an opportunity for bakers looking to recruit?Top-calibre opportunity”Family businesses have a great opportunity to attract some top-calibre talent out of the recession,” comments Bowman. Despite the fact that only 6.5% of those asked feel family businesses offer good training opportunities and 9.5% believe they offer good career prospects, compared to non-family businesses, Bowman says prospective employees shouldn’t feel they won’t be able to climb the career ladder just because they don’t share a surname with the owner. “There are some great opportunities for non-family staff members to take on very senior roles, particularly at firms that have no succession plans.”Stephen Roper, professor of enterprise at the Centre for Small and Medium-sized Enterprises, Warwick Business School, says the nurturing aspect of family firms is one of their key strengths. “As they are often small, employees also tend to get exposure to many different sides of the business.” He said this well-rounded aspect is likely to attract younger workers in particular or those going through a training programme. “If I was a small family business, looking to recruit, I would be saying, ’We’re friendly, we support our staff, we have flexibility’ those sorts of values.”Grant Gordon, director general at the Institute for Family Business, says a big challenge facing family firms is recruiting and retaining strong talent at all levels. “To achieve success, family firms must set out a clear strategy for remuneration, and accountability for decision-making, backed by a well-articulated long-term corporate vision,” he explains. “But arguably the strongest pulling factor for a family firm will be a statement of values that have been demonstrably practised over the years, underpinning a positive company culture.”Trevor Mooney, joint MD at family-run Cheshire craft bakery Chatwins, has worked for both a national and a family business. “In a family business you are treated more as a person and a valued member of staff than just a number on a clock card,” he explains. With over 30 of its staff having completed 10 years’ service and 20 staff having completed 20 years, the loyalty of employees to the firm is clear. “Because of our local family name, most members of staff have been brought up knowing Chatwins, so most of them tend to be recruited locally,” says Mooney.Iain Campbell, MD of Campbell’s bakery in Perthshire, Scotland, is the sixth-generation Campbell to run the business since its inception in 1830. His two sisters, Alison and Fiona, also work at the bakery, along with 15 other employees. Campbell says that family firms, by design, have more than a passing interest in baking and are more passionate about what they’re doing. “We say that we’re small enough to care, but large enough to cope (with orders),” he explains.
As sales of the ubiquitous cupcake continue to rise, British Baker today launches the search to find Britain’s Best Cupcake Baker 2010.Cupcake specialist bakeries continue to proliferate, with over 100 already signed up to get involved in National Cupcake Week 2010, which takes place from 13-19 September.National Cupcake Week celebrates and supports the growth of an industry sector that has spawned a raft of new businesses across the UK and stimulated innovation in what has become a true classic of the cake sector. Cupcake sales are up 16% year-on-year, with volumes up 7% (source: Kantar Worldpanel, April 2010).Cake specialists, craft and in-store bakeries across the UK are invited to enter the competition to find the nation’s most outstanding cupcake baker. Entrants must already be selling cupcakes commercially.How to enterThis is an opportunity to let your imagination run free. Last year’s winners included a courgette cupcake, and the overall winner was a retro Black Forest Cupcake by Kevin Sibley of Mama’s Cupcakes. Whether you’re playing around with the cake, the topping or the decorations, do your best to surprise us! But most importantly, don’t forget that, first and foremost, the cake must taste great.1. Send us the following:one colour image of the cupcakeyour name for the cakea description of the cake, including ingredients used and sources of inspiration (no more than 100 words)a synopsis of your business, how long you’ve been trading, who are your customers and why you think you stand out from the crowd (no more than 100 words)your company name, phone number, email address, location and website url (if appropriate)2. The cake must be commercially viable that is, you could reasonably expect to sell it in a shop or internet cake delivery business.3. Only one cupcake entry per baker. We are not looking for a range of cakes. For the final judging process, shortlisted bakers will be expected to deliver a batch of 12 identical cakes and the recipe for their cupcakes.4. Final judging will take place at a venue in London by a top panel of experts during the first week of August, and entrants must be able to deliver their cupcakes in person or through a delivery service. Seven cupcake bakers’ cakes will be chosen to represent each day of the week and an overall winner will be crowned.5. Cakes will be judged on creativity, taste, texture and appearance.6. Closing date is 16 July. Shortlisted bakers will be contacted by 30 July. Winners will be announced on 13 August.Please send entries to [email protected] or Cupcake Competition, British Baker, William Reed Business Media, Broadfield Park, Crawley, West Sussex RH11 9RTFor more event information, a comprehensive list of cupcake bakers and an exclusive Cosmopolitan Cupcake recipe from reigning champion Kevin Sibley, visit: www.nationalcupcakeweek.co.uk or contact [email protected] quirky cupcake news, visit the official National Cupcake Week Facebook page: www.facebook.com/home.php?#!/group.php?gid=58988088047Follow @CupcakeWeek on Twitter. National Cupcake Week sponsors Renshaw supplies a range of high-quality food ingredients, primarily to the bakery sector comprising craft bakers and major cake manufacturers and also to grocery retailers. It is a leading manufacturer of marzipans, ready-to-roll icings, soft icings, baking chocolate, caramels, mallow and jams.www.renshaw-nbf.co.ukChevler is the UK’s leading manufacturer of baking cases and muffin wraps. The company is synonymous with quality and innovation, ensuring that its customers consistently add value to their cupcakes and muffins in order to keep them one step ahead of competitors. With over 500 sizes of crimped and special cases in its range, Chevler has a baking case for you.www.chevler.co.ukSupported byBFP Wholesale is Britain’s only national bakery wholesaler with thousands of customers nationwide. BFP Wholesale will be on hand to supply everything the keen cupcake maker needs from mixes to flour, sugar, icings, toppings, decorations and cases. In fact, ’all the right ingredients’ to dazzle consumers with their baking skills, creativity and artistic flair.www.bfpwholesale.comHigh street homewares specialist Robert Dyas is the first retailer to back National Cupcake Week, with the company reporting a surge in sales of baking products. It sells 500 cupcake stands per week and sales in its bakeware category are 20% up on last year. Robert Dyas will be featuring the logo throughout its national chain of stores, with activities and promotions planned for the week.www.robertdyas.co.uk
Bakery transport companies are concerned that European Commission proposals to limit the height of UK trailers could mean a big change to their working practices.The Freight Transport Association (FTA) wants to protect the current system, which gives UK operators the right to operate vehicles and trailers above four metres, but the EC has threatened to remove this derogation. The FTA found that bakeries had specific issues where the factory’s automated stacking systems stack to a height that fits perfectly with a 4.95m double deck trailer, with no headroom to spare. Any reduction in height would mean the loss of the top stack, which would have to be manually un-stacked before loading.Following intensive lobbying, the EC announced it would consider lifting the height limit to 4.88m for double-deck trailers but the FTA said this did not go far enough.Andy Mair, the FTA’s head of engineering policy, said: “All the evidence points to the fact that many significant operators in the UK use trailers that would be outlawed if EC proposals went ahead; the cost-saving and CO2 benefits of higher trailers would be lost too. We would like the height limit for all trailers, not just double-deck, to be set to at least 4.95m.”It said some products moved in stillages (caged pallets) are stacked with no room to spare height-wise and even a small reduction in height would result in the loss of one stillage per stack less.An update from the EC on the proposals is expected in the autumn.
It’s the ultimate in indulgence; a slice of cake, a square of shortbread or an oaty flapjack with a cup of tea. Neat, single-portion quick fixes of cake and other baked treats are increasingly tempting customers as the grab-and-go coffee shop culture of busy lifestyles and the sweet treat market continue to grow.Statistics from Kantar Worldpanel reveal volume sales of cake bars have seen an almost 6% year-on-year rise, while individual slices have seen an increase of 1.4%, driven by the trends for indulgence and convenience. With the majority of cake purchases falling into the impulse-buy category, what can bakers do to inject longevity into the appeal of a single slice that’s small enough not to be laden with guilt, and big enough to suffice as a tasty treat? How can a single-portioned slice compete next to other pre-packaged treats of chocolates, biscuits and snacks?According to CSM United Kingdom, the secret lies in grabbing a customer’s attention with an enticing display of affordable slices, that are just the right size and price to be snacked at in a lunch hour. Lisa Boswell, marketing manager of CSM, says: “The key purchasing trigger is a prominent display that grabs the attention of the consumer and really showcases products to best advantage; secondly, the aroma of freshly baked cakes is hard to refuse. Of course, an affordable price point that puts the cake ’within reach’ and the opportunity for the consumer to grab a bargain are tangible triggers in today’s market. Once you have these basic triggers in mind, then it’s just a case of developing your cake, traybake and slice menu to maximise opportunities.”Boswell says bakers should consider single-portion cakes as “treat-me” items, appealing to the office worker wanting a pick-me-up along with a lunchtime sandwich. She says the easiest way to do this is by freezing traybakes, and then thawing and serving just enough single portions for each day’s worth of trading, recommending CSM’s Readi-Bake chocolate brownie or carrot cake as mixes that are practical as tray bakes. “Not only does this help save time in the long run,” says Boswell, “but it also helps bakers extend their offerings in the most cost-effective way.”By freezing, for instance, a traybake of brownies or carrot cake, and thawing as and when required, bakeries can still offer their customers variety, while eliminating wastage and saving time on preparation and costs. “It’s a great way for bakers to be price point-specific,” Boswell adds.Swedish baker Almondy agrees with the convenience of freezing traybakes and single-portion slices. Its pre-sliced frozen cake range, which has been selling in the UK since 2005, following an initial launch in Ikea, has seen total year-to-date sales up by 4%. The frozen cake defrosts in less than 10 minutes and comes ready-to-serve; bulk cases of Almondy for the foodservice sector contains frozen cakes pre-cut into 12 slices. “All the foodservice is pre-sliced,” explains Andrew Ely, MD of Almondy in the UK, “so the customer can take one slice at a time which avoids wastage.”On-the-go productsFreezing cakes doesn’t have to mean compromising on freshness either. The Handmade Cake Company first introduced its Cakes-to-Go range in 2008 and it has now grown to account for 10% of the overall business and, by next year, is anticipated to increase to 20% of turnover. The cakes are baked fresh, and frozen as soon as they are made, combining the convenience of being packed as individual portions with quality ingredients.Parry Hughes-Morgan, MD of The Handmade Cake Company, says the appeal of Cakes-to-Go lies in being able to provide more than just a sugar fix in the form of a chocolate or a biscuit, but something that tastes homemade and indeed handmade (as the name suggests) instead. “Our individually portioned Cakes-to-Go work well in this time-poor culture, when a customer might really be craving a slice of freshly homemade cake, but just doesn’t have time to sit in a café for half an hour. It’s for when they really want a treat, but not just a digestive biscuit, craving something premium and artisan instead.”Hughes-Morgan says one of the biggest challenges to bakers producing individual-portioned cake slices is to highlight the quality of the ingredients and convince customers they are buying a product that is made with care and tastes as good as a slab of freshly-baked cake.”Customers do have a tendency to see a product pre-packed in plastic as something that’s dumbed-down and not as good as the ’real’ thing,” he says. “We have to put across the message on our packaging in a very limited amount of space that this is a homemade cake, even if it is wrapped in plastic. Customers who pick up individual portions are usually in a rush themselves and don’t have very much time to consider what they are buying, so it has been really important to us to create striking packaging.”The Handmade Cake Company says single-portion cakes slices shouldn’t be treated any differently to a larger cake; the ingredients and recipes used are exactly the same as the ones used for its traybakes. “It’s the ingredients which help make a product stand out,” explains Hughes-Morgan. “We never use mixes, and bake the cakes fresh, using the same ingredients that you could if you were making them at home in your own kitchen. We then freeze them straight away.”Its Cakes-to-Go range features classic combinations, including: a chocolate fruit and nut slice, based on an old-fashioned refrigerator cake, with pieces of biscuit, walnuts and cherries on a chocolate fudge base; an all-butter flapjack; and, its best-seller, caramel shortcake.Yet Hughes-Morgan stresses the importance of continuing to innovate with new combinations. He says American flavours are a big inspiration right now, with a Boston Brownie slice a fudge brownie topped with chocolate chips already on the menu and Rocky Road and granola Cakes-to-Go launching soon. “American combinations work fantastically as traybakes and individual portions; there’s something about them that’s very winning with customers, including children.”Ingredients supplier Macphie says creating American-style mini-treats is one way to make individually portioned baked produce stand out. Macphie marketing manager Jania Boyd explains: “Potential cake buyers see mini-cakes as a convenient, portable indulgence, which won’t ruin the diet or break the bank. But these small indulgences must look good and be jam-packed with flavour for example, you could include cake pops and marshmallows, or mini red velvet cupcakes with creamy frosting. By making them look good, you will make the decision to purchase that treat a no-brainer.”Over in South Wales, Clam’s Handmade Cakes is doing a roaring trade in single-portion cakes and traybakes. “The rise in our sales of single servings has been so great, that we have invested in a flow wrapper to improve our packaging in this market,” says Lewis Phillips, one of the founders of the company.Flavour-wise, Phillips says, caramel slices and chocolate brownies remain traditional favourites, but like The Handmade Cake Company, Clam’s is always keeping an eye out on American cakes that could work as single servings and slices in the UK, as coming up with new stand-out products remains the biggest challenge. “We’ve already identified the need to create single cake pops, due to the American X-factor,” he says. “The market is so saturated that bakeries have had to up their game and devise unique new flavours. We have just launched a coconut and lemon slice that is proving very popular, while our red berry slice, made with fruit, Rice Krispies and coconut, has seen rapid growth in sales over the last six months. You need great packaging, but equally a great product to compete in today’s market.”At the larger end of the market, individual cake portions and slices appeal to families in particular because of their simple convenience, fitting in to lunch boxes either for children to take to school, or for parents to take to work. Pauline Ferrol, national sales controller of British Bakels, one of the largest ingredient suppliers in the UK, says: “Cakes are inherently convenient, particularly single-serve and individually-wrapped products. This is why cakes, traybakes and slice lines are such an important market for bakers.”While some bakers prefer not to use mixes, Ferrol says these are a quick way to produce bulk slices and single-serve portions, which can be brought to life by different flavoured fillings, such as caramel filling for millionaire’s shortbread or toffee sauce for single servings of banoffee pie slices. Products in Bakels range include Kokomix, which needs just the addition of cold water to produce a wide variety of moist-eating coconut lines.This September, Premier Foods, the UK’s largest food producer, which owns the Mr Kipling brand, is launching individually packaged angel cake and lemon cake slices, in snap packs, so that each slice can be broken off and used one at a time. Premier Foods says it has been spurred on to launch individually packaged slices as a result of consumer demand for portion control and reduced food waste.Diana Dorsett, category controller for cake at Premier Foods, says: “Mr Kipling Snap Packs are designed to encourage shoppers to think of cake outside the traditional teatime occasion, by increasing portability and versatility. It fits perfectly into a lunch box, creating a great sales opportunity.”
Author and TV baker Richard Bertinet has opened a pop-up shop in Bath and is close to securing permanent premises in the city after setting up a new production bakery.The new Bertinet Bakery pop-up shop opened last week and will trade in the run-up to Christmas, selling the baker’s award-winning sourdough as well as tarts, cakes and pastries. Located in The Podium shopping centre and due to be taken over by Waitrose next year, the pop-up shop will relocate to other, permanent premises after Christmas.The new shop has opened in the wake of disruption to the company’s wholesale operation during the summer, when a joint-venture partner, which had been providing production space, went into administration. The Bertinet business was unaffected, but had to move quickly to set up its own production bakery to maintain its supply to delis and restaurants in the area, although it is still not able to supply customers in London, including Selfridges. The company is currently in the process of registering its new site for Soil Association accreditation, which is expected to be confirmed in the next few weeks.”It was a difficult time for us, but we managed to restart production within a week and are now ready to start growing both the wholesale and retail sides of the business,” said Richard’s wife, Jo, who manages the company.Richard Bertinet was named BBC Food Champion of the Year 2010 for his work on bread, and is the author of two award-winning books on baking, Dough and Crust. He runs regular bread classes at his cookery school, The Bertinet Kitchen, in Bath.